Comic books have been around since the 1930s, but no longer are they 10 cent reprints of Buck Rogers and Superman newspaper strips in magazine form, or even the comics of the 1960s and 1970s that produced a growing array of superheroes who started facing contemporary issues.
Nowadays comics are valued as collectibles and even the writers and artists of comic books are revered by fans of the medium.
There’s now a place in Socorro where comic book lovers can feed their need for the latest issue of Spiderman, Superman, X-Men, Batman and all the rest. It’s World Tree Comics & Games at 300 South California Street.
Earlier this fall, Ben and Val Thomas, along with partner Aaron Kendall, pooled their resources, and decided it was time to open a place for lovers of comic books and card games.
Grand opening was Halloween night.
All the familiar faces from the DC and Marvel pantheon, as well as independent publishers like Image, Dark Horse of IDW can be found at World Tree.
“The latest new comic books come in every Wednesday,” Ben said.
He credits Stan Lee with advancing the art of comic books, as well as helping him learn to read.
“If it wasn’t for Stan Lee, I probably wouldn’t be standing behind this counter,” former Techis Ben Thomas said. “ I was homeschooled and basically learned how to read through comic books. I grew up with my father’s comic books.”
He said the recent passing of Stan Lee was “a big emotional day for me.”
Ben said major motion pictures have spurred a renewed interest in comic books.
“The market is crazy now, what with all the superheroes in the movies,” Ben Thomas said.
“People see the movies and then they want to go back to the roots and ask, ‘where is this stuff coming from?’”
“It’s right here,” he said, gesturing to the wall of comics.
He said one of the appeals is that the stories and characters are organic.
“They’re ongoing,” he said. “For example, the Spiderman that was released last week is the same Spiderman in 1964. It’s just he’s just progressed as a character.”
“New artists and new authors that are coming in take a well-honed story and they can take it in any direction they want,” Val Thomas said. “It doesn’t get stale.”
She said the nearest place to buy comics is 84 miles away.
“There’s nothing in Valencia County and nothing closer than Las Cruces down south,” she said.
Besides the vast selection of comic book titles at the store are two adjoining rooms with tables for game playing, and the name of the game is “Magic - The Gathering.”
Ben said that up to 20 million people world-wide play the game.
“It debuted in 1993,” he said. “It’s both a trading card game and digital collectible card game. Kind of like D&D but in card form. You get to individually create your character, or deck, as you ‘battle’ another person who has another deck.”
A deck has 60 individual cards.
“You can have two persons play, or you can have 10 or 15 people at a table all playing together,” he said. “The idea behind it is that you are a planes walker, traversing through different universes.”
“It sounds complicated when you explain it, but once you start playing it, it can become second nature,” Val said. “Like when you are trying to learn the moves in chess.”
“Once you learn the variations and rules it becomes second nature. Our eight year-old plays, and plays well,” Ben said. “It takes a fair amount of critical thinking.”
World Tree is open until 11 p.m. and midnight.
“This is to give people a place to go at night to play each other,” he said. “Besides El Camino.”
Their clientele range from high schoolers to Tech students to parents with their kids.
“Just last night there were some high school kids in here learning how to play Magic,” Val said. “We want to provide a comfortable and safe place where these young people can come and play.”
World Tree rents tables for closed play at $10 for four hours, “or you can just come in and play for free,” she said. “We had a friend who asked can we play pinochle there. We told them, ‘Of course, come down and use our tables.’
“We encourage people to bring board games, bring card games,” Val said. “If anyone wants to play scrabble, if somebody wants to bring monopoly, they’re welcome to get out of the house and come here.”
Snacks are available and pizza can be delivered, Ben said. “We want this to be a community-oriented thing.”
World Tree Comics & Games is open 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 11 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday; and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Closed on Monday and Tuesday.